My Ancestors Signature #42 ~ Morgan Blair

How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.

1st Cousin 6 times Removed

Morgan Blair
1812-1886
From Will Dated February 17, 1885

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Thursday at the Cemetery #55 ~ Cedar Valley UMC Church Cemetery #3

This week I am honoring some of my paternal Hughes/Hayes family. There are several of my ancestors buried in this quaint cemetery located in Caldwell County, North Carolina.


I have spent the last couple of weeks writing a bio about each relative and posting it in a series of blogs. This is the final one.

Morgan Blair, my 1st cousin 6 times removed, was born on September 16, 1812, in Caldwell County, North Carolina. He was the son of John Colbert Blair (1764-1846) and Frances Hill (1768-1853). He was raised on his family’s farm near Cedar Valley. His family were pioneers in what was then Burke County, but is now Caldwell County. At a young age he learned the trade of a wagon maker. When he came of age he homesteaded his own farm, and he built a wagon shop on the property, and here he built and repaired wagons. He continued to acquire more land each year. In 1838, he married Elizabeth McLeod (1817-1877) the daughter of John McLeod and Elizabeth McRea. They had 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters. Morgan built his farm into a great plantation. In 1877, he became the postmaster in Cedar Valley where he served until his death on December 14, 1886, at the age of 74.

Elizabeth McLeod , wife of my 1st cousin 6 times removed, was born on May 26, 1817, in Caldwell County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of John McLeod and Elizabeth McRea. Her parents had immigrated to America in 1798 from Scotland. In 1838, she married Morgan Blair (1812-1886) the son of John Colbert Blair (1764-1846) and Frances Hill (1768-1853)). They had 10 children, 6 sons and 4 daughters. She died on September 29, 1877, at the age of 60.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Here’s Your Sign #27 ~ Henry Leonidas Stevens Jr.

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large, and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

Henry L. Stevens Jr. 1896-1971 Veterans Leader. National Commander of American Legion, 1931-32; Superior Court Judge, 1939-62. He lived 2 blocks North.

Henry is my paternal 3rd cousin 2 times removed. He lived his entire life in  Clinton, Sampson County, North Carolina. He was very involved in his community, winning many awards for his extraordinary service.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

Thursday at the Cemetery #53 ~ Cedar Valley UMC Church Cemetery ~ North Carolina

This week I am honoring some of my paternal Hughes/Hayes family. There are several of my ancestors buried in this quaint cemetery located in Caldwell County, North Carolina.

I will be spending the next couple of weeks writing a bio about each one relative and posting it in a series of blogs.

Colbert Blair, my 6th Great Grandfather, was born on April 8, 1729, in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of James Blair (1715-1776) and Mary Colbert (1705-1757). He moved with his family to Caldwell County, North Carolina, in 1740. His family were pioneers in what was then Burke County, but is now Caldwell County. In 1749, he married Sarah Morgan (1731-1827) the daughter of John Morgan (1696-1746) and Sarah Lloyd (1701-1747). They had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters. Colbert fought in the 9th regiment of the North Carolina Militia in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1805 at the age of 76.

Sarah Morgan, my 6th Great Grandmother, was born on September 22, 1731, in Beverly, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of John Morgan (1696-1746) and Sarah Lloyd (1701-1747). He moved with her family to Caldwell County, North Carolina, in 1739. She was the first cousin of Daniel Boone through her mother. In 1749, she married Colbert Blair (1729-1805) the son of James Blair (1715-1776) and Mary Colbert (1705-1757). They had 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters. She died in 1805 at the age of 96. No stone has been found found for her.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

This day at the Cemetery #49~ Cleveland Cemetery ~ Purlear, Wilkes County, North Carolina ~ Finale

I just discovered this small cemetery that is the final resting place of some of my Cleveland ancestors. It only has 27 graves on it, the first one was in 1732 and the last one was in 1981. That means it was in use for 249 years! It appears to be located on private land. The grounds are overrun with tall grass but the wrought iron fence that surrounds it is in good condition.

19 graves in this cemetery belong to my ancestors so I will be spending the next few weeks honoring those who are buried here.

Leander Carmickle Yates is my paternal 4th cousin 3 times removed. He was born on January 6, 1853, in Purlear, Wilkes County, North Carolina. He was the second of 10 children born to Jesse C. Yates (1817-1898) and Sarah Caroline Eller (1831-1919). He lived his entire life in the town of Purlear. He married Jeslin Martha Phipps (1874-1952) on March 3, 1890 in Ashe County, North Carolina. They had 7 children, 6 sons and 1 daughter. Leander was a farmer and he owned his own farm. He died on June 14, 1922, at the age of 69. No headstone has been found.

Jeslin Martha Phipps is the wife of my paternal 4th cousin 3 times removed. She was born on September 3, 1874, in Chestnut Hill, Ashe County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Robert Phipps (1850-1939) and Caroline Yates (1849-1923).She is listed on the Dawes Rolls as a Cherokee Indian. She married Leander Carmickle Yates(1853-1922) on March 3, 1890, in Ashe County, North Carolina. They had 7 children, 6 sons and 1 daughter. She died on November 7, 1952, at the age of 90. No headstone has been found.

Vannoy Cleveland Yates, is my paternal 5th cousin 2x removed. He was born on April 14, 1891, the oldest of 7 children born to Leander Carmickle Yates (1853-1922) and Jeslin Martha Phipps (1874-1952). He joined the army in 1914 and served until 1919. He married Lillie Barbara Shew (1893-1981) on February 6, 1825, and they had 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughter. Vannoy owned a 300 acre farm in Stanton, Wilkes County, North Carolina where they had moved after they got married. Vannoy died September 9, 1968, in Wilkes County, North Carolina at the age of 77.

Lillie Barbara Shew, is the wife of my paternal 5th cousin 2x removed. She was born on March 2, 1893, to Simon Shew and Carolina Yates, She married Vannoy Cleveland Yates (1891-1968) on February 6, 1825, and they had 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughter. They moved to Stanton, Wilkes County, North Carolina after they got married. Lillie died January 1, 1981, in Wilkes County, North Carolina at the age of 88.

Robert Harrison Yates, is my paternal 5th cousin 2 times removed. He was born on June 11, 1899, in Purlear, Wilkes County, North Carolina, the 5th child born to Leander Carmickle Yates (1853-1922) and Jeslin Martha Phipps (1874-1952). Robert died on December 8, 1905, at the age of 6 from scarlet fever. No headstone has been found.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

This Old House #4 ~ Captain Robert Cleveland

Once again I was searching through my family trees and I noticed that there were quite a few photos of the homes that my ancestors had lived in. Some of them were built way back in the early 1600s. They varied in size, style, and construction material. They are all as equally unique as each of my ancestors!


Original House

Restored House

Robert Cleveland was born on January 8, 1744, on his fathers Plantation in Orange County, Virginia. He, along with several of his siblings migrated to western North Carolina sometime around 1769 when he was 25 years old. He settled near the Yadkin River on a tract of land that had been granted to him. About 1779, Robert Cleveland built his house on the Parsonville Road in western Wilkes County. Here he farmed and made whiskey. He had 13 children by his first wife, Alice ‘Aley’ Mathis. He died April 26, 1812. Hundreds of descendants have visited the house of their ancestors. For many years the house stood vacant, slowly decaying, a refuge for an occasional stray animal. In 1987, the house was purchased by Old Wilkes, taken apart and brought downtown to Wilkesboro, where the task of reassembling began. The original logs were used with only a few having to be replaced, and the mountain rocks that mad the chimneys were washed, stacked and reused in the two large chimneys and fireplaces. All the original beams are exposed; however, the floors and rafters had to be replaced. The rafters were cut from the Cleveland land and are held together with wooden pegs, which was the way it was originally constructed. It is believed to be the oldest house in Wilkes County.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday at the Cemetery #48~ Cleveland Cemetery ~ Purlear, Wilkes County, North Carolina ~ Part 3

I just discovered this small cemetery that is the final resting place of some of my Cleveland ancestors. It only has 27 graves on it, the first one was in 1732 and the last one was in 1981. That means it was in use for 249 years! It appears to be located on private land. The grounds are overrun with tall grass but the wrought iron fence that surrounds it is in good condition.

19 graves in this cemetery belong to my ancestors so I will be spending the next few weeks honoring those who are buried here.


All 4 of the following graves do not have a Headstone

David Yates, my paternal 3rd cousin, 4 times removed, was born in 1805, in Lewis Fork, Wilkes County, North Carolina. He was the fourth of nine children born to John Yates Jr (1780-1875) and Elizabeth Cleveland (1783-1850). He married Elizabeth Church (1816-1853) on January 5, 1847. They had 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughters. David was a farmer whose main crop was tobacco. David died in March 1860, in Lewis Fork, Wilkes, North Carolina, at the age of 55. He committed suicide by hanging himself in the barn.

Elizabeth Church, wife of my paternal 3rd cousin, 4 times removed, was born on March 15, 1816, in Lewis Fork, Wilkes County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of John Church and Sarah Billings. She married David Yates (1805-1860) on January 5, 1847. They had 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughters. Elizabeth died on June 14, 1853, in Lewis Fork, Wilkes, North Carolina, at the age of 37. She died 2 weeks after giving birth to their fourth child from complications caused by the birth.

Presley Cleveland Yates, my paternal 4th cousin 3 times removed, was born on October 18, 1850, in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He was the son of David Yates (1805-1860) and Elizabeth Cleveland (1816-1853). He married Sara McGlamery (1860-1930) in 1879 in Lewis Fork, Wilkes County, North Carolina. They had 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters. Presley was a farmer. He died on December 22, 1923, in Purlear, Wilkes County, North Carolina at the age of 73. It is not known when or where his wife died nor where she is buried.

Margaret Virginia Yates my paternal 3rd cousin 4 times removed, was born in 1852 to John Yates Jr (1780-1875) and his second wife, Fanny Lamira Laws (1823-1912). She was the oldest of their 3 daughters. She died from pneumonia in 1864 at the age of 11 years old.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Picture Perfect Saturday #28 ~ Benjamin and Katherine (Latimer) Shirley

I am currently working on my Family Genealogy Group page for Facebook. In doing so I realized I have a tremendous amount of photos. I decided to feature one a week. No, not everyone is “perfect” however, they are to me!

This week I am showcasing my paternal 2nd cousin twice removed and his wife. Benjamin Emaziah Shirley was born in 1814 and his wife Katherine Caroline Latimer was born in 1824 in North Carolina. They were married in 1841. This photo was taken about 1880 in Reed Creek, Hart County, Georgia. Benjamin was 66 years old and Katherine was 56. They look like a very mild-mannered couple. I think he looks lie he knows a secret, and she appears to not enjoy her photo being taken. My only wish was that the photo was in better condition.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday’s Salute #41 ~ Eli Coffey ~ Substitute Soldier Revolutionary War

I just wanted to place this disclaimer here: I understand that some of the events that is written about in this blog are disturbing. However, it is a part of history and it should not be covered up because of this. This blog does not glorify the events nor does it condone them. It is just stating the facts of the little known history of the Revolutionary War.

Eli Coffey, my 1st cousin 5 times removed, was born on March 1, 1763, in Blue Run, Orange County, Virginia. He was one of eleven children born to Reverend James Coffey (1729-1786) and Elizabeth Cleveland (1729-1826). He moved with his parents and siblings to Morgan, Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1778. Here is where he began an unusual stint in the Revolutionary War.

In December of 1780, Eli’s maternal Uncle Thomas Fields, was drafted into the regiment of Captain John Barton. Thomas had a large family and a sick wife, and he asked if he could be excused from serving. His request was denied, but he was told if he found a substitute he would be able to stay home. When Eli heard of his Uncle’s dilemma, he volunteered to be a scout in Thomas’ place. The length of service was only for 3 months. By 1779, George Washington had earned the famous moniker “Father of His Country.” However the Iroquois Indians of the time bestowed on Washington another, not-so-flattering title: Conotocarious, or the “Town Destroyer.” This lesser-known title also had its origins in 1779, when General Washington ordered what at the time was the largest-ever campaign against the Indians in North America. After suffering for nearly two years from Iroquois raids on the Colonies’ northern frontier, Washington and Congress decided to strike back.


Butler’s Rangers

On the afternoon of November 11, 1778, Captain Benjamin Warren had led a group of soldiers out of the small fort at Cherry Valley, New York, and straight into a scene from hell. As the Patriot soldiers walked through the once-thriving farming community, they saw nothing but carnage: a man weeping over the mutilated and scalped bodies of his wife and four children; other corpses with their heads crushed by tomahawks and rifle butts; charred human remains in the smoking ruins of cabins and barns. It was, Warren later wrote, “a shocking sight my eyes never beheld before of savage and brutal barbarity.” The savagery had begun early that morning, when a hundreds-strong force of Loyalist militiamen, Seneca Indians and a few British soldiers had appeared out of the fog and rain. The town and its small garrison were taken completely by surprise, and the raiders—led by Tory Captain Walter Butler and Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant—launched into an orgy of death and destruction. The fort managed to hold out, but the town and its people were defenseless. By the time the attackers withdrew, more than 30 civilians—mostly women and children—and 16 soldiers were dead and nearly 200 people left homeless. The assault soon became known as the “Cherry Valley Massacre,” and it would help convince General George Washington to launch a massive, no-holds-barred retaliatory expedition.

Captain John Barton led one of the regiments that retaliated against the British and their Indian allies. Eli’s job was to scout the countryside for the villages where these Indians were living. It is not known if he ever participated in the fighting between the two factions, or if he only pointed the way to the villages. The Indians who stood with the British generally fought alongside American and Canadian Loyalists. The most infamous band of Loyalists to utilize Indian allies was Butler’s Rangers—a partisan regiment formed in 1777 under Lt. Col. John Butler, a Tory from the Mohawk Valley. While focusing their activities on the New York and Pennsylvania settlements, Butler’s irregulars ranged as far out as Virginia and Michigan. They were extremely effective and, at times, brutal. The 1778 Wyoming and Cherry Valley massacres—the bloodiest of many border fights—were largely the work of Butler’s Rangers, together with “Cornplanter”, a Dutch-Seneca war chief and Brant’s Mohawks and Indians from other tribes. Again, it is not known if Eli actually participated in any of these events or if he just scouted out the targets of them.

Eli completed his service and returned home to North Carolina. Within a few months his older brother Ambrose was drafted to go against the Cherokees, but he was severely near-sighted. Once again Eli volunteered to serve, this time for his brother. He enlisted as a horseman. He entered the service in Wilkes County, North Carolina under Lieutenant Isbell of Wilkes. Colonel Miller of Rutherford, Colonel Joseph McDowell and General Charles McDowell of Burke rendezvoused with Isbell at Pleasant Garden, Burke County, North Carolina. They crossed the Mountain at the head of Swannanoa River, and marched forward crossing the French Broad River, the Big and Little Pigeon Rivers, and Tuckaseegee entering an Indian town called Tuckaseegee and they took the town. They then crossed the Tennessee River and headwaters of the Hiwassee River, passing through the various parts of the Cherokee Nation. They burnt down other Indian villages along the way including the Overhill Towns, the Valley towns and the Shoemake Towns and then returned home and the entire regiment was discharged at the expiration of the three months, the term for which he had entered.

Eli married Hannah Allen (1765-1845) in 1790, and they had 3 sons. Eli bought 50 acres of land in Burke County and began farming. They moved to Wayne County, Kentucky, about 1815 where he then purchased 21 acres. In 1828, they once again moved, this time to Mc Minn County, Tennessee, near his older brother Rice’s farm. Eli died on September 5, 1847, at the age of 84.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

The Overall Gang #3 ~ Charles McKay Blackwelder

A lot of time while writing about our ancestors, we focus on those who would be considered successful by current standards. After all, there is usually far more documentation and sources that we can draw from that makes developing the story of their lives much easier. Looking through photos I made a discovery! I have quite a few pictures of my ancestors wearing farmers overalls. The majority of my ancestors spent their whole lives making a home and raising a family on a farm. To them, wearing overalls was a sign of honor, and they were proud of what they did. So to honor these hard-working men I will highlight the life of one of the “overall gang” each week, including the photo and a brief biography of the legacy they left behind.

This week I am highlighting my paternal 3rd cousin, Charles McKay Blackwelder. He was born on October 24, 1915 and was the oldest of the 2 children born to Whitson Blackwelder (1854-1930) and Beatrice Carter (1887-1922). Although he was raised in the town of Old Fort, McDowell County, North Carolina, he spent a lot of his childhood on the nearby farms of his Grandparents and several uncles. His father had become a blacksmith, so being on the farms was a treat for him.

In 1948, he married Blanche Hawley (1920-2004) and they moved out of town near his farming family and rented a farm. They had 2 children, 1 son, and 1 daughter. He tried his hand at farming but found he didn’t enjoy it , nor was he successful with it. At least he tried. He then got a job working on the railroad, and he worked for them until he retired. He died on April 1, 1993, at the age of 77.

I wanted to do this tribute because as I stated above, his love of the farm as a child prompted him to try farming, even though it didn’t work out. Also, I think the photo of him in his little overalls at the age of 2 was just too adorable not to share!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.